Azusa Pacific University, (APU) the first Christian college on the West Coast, has reversed its policy on banning public LGBTQ relationships on campus after caving in to pressure from activists.
The website ZuMedia reports the university has removed language from its student code of conduct which "prohibited public LGBTQ+ relationships for students on campus." At the same time, the evangelical university maintains that it still professes to adhere to a Biblical interpretation of human sexuality – the belief that "sexual union is intended by God to take place only within the marriage covenant between a man and a woman."
According to the APU student website, the students and the school's administration have been talking about the change for a while. APU LGBTQ students have run an underground support group, but since they weren't endorsed by the university as an official organization, they couldn't meet on campus or advertise their meetings.
"The changes that occurred to the handbooks around sexual behavior creates one standard for all undergraduate students, as opposed to differential standards for different groups," APU Associate Dean of Students Bill Fiala, Ph.D. said. "The change that happened with the code of conduct is still in alignment with our identity as a Christian institution. The language changed, but the spirit didn't. Our spirit is still a conservative, evangelical perspective on human sexuality."
In addition to the code of conduct change, APU will also work to provide a safe space for LGBTQ students on campus.
"Our hope is that the students who come experience respect, justice, grace, and understanding. If you look at our mission, it's consistent with Christianity. Our values for the pilot program are inclusivity, love, bravery. Our goals are care, connection, and conversation. These all seem like Christian values to me," Fiala told the student website. "I believe that our program's mission is alignment with the values of the university in caring for students and creating conversation about difficult topics."
According to the university's website, the school was founded in 1899 and is a community of individuals representing diverse Christian backgrounds, but whose core identity is built on the Wesleyan Holiness tradition.